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The ‘soft power’ of George Soros 

June 6th, 2016

Conservative columnists agree with the government that George Soros and his network are keeping the Hungarian government under pressure. A liberal and a centrist analyst accuse the government of fomenting hatred and creating conspiracy theories.

Last week several prominent government politicians including Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár accused George Soros of orchestrating opposition activities in Hungary. In his Friday radio interview, PM Orbán said that Mr Soros supports anti-government organizations in order to ‘promote migration.’

In Magyar Idők, Dávid Deák accuses the Left of trying to downplay the power and dangers of the Soros network. The pro-government commentator believes that a clandestine global network of organizations related to George Soros want to exert power and weaken national governments throughout Europe. Deák claims that in some countries, Soros-supported civil organizations have been labelled as threats to national security. He alleges that one of the main weapons of the Soros-financed groups is to level corruption charges against governments and organize anti-government demonstrations. Another tactic is to help migration to the EU through civil groups as well as international organizations in order to weaken nation states, Deák claims. Taking all this into account, it is no exaggeration to say that the Soros network keeps the Hungarian government under tremendous pressure, Deák concludes.

In 168 Óra, Mária Vásárhelyi picks up the popular theme on the left that several government politicians including PM Orbán himself received funding from the Hungarian American philanthropist to study abroad. Vásárhelyi thinks the government dislikes Soros because the latter funds initiatives whose main aim is to counter what she calls the centralization of anti-democratic power. She argues that in the absence of strong and independent Hungarian financiers, anti-Orbán opposition groups need foreign supporters. Soros is devoted to the theory of an open society, she explains, and this is why he supports government-critical initiatives. She doesn’t accuse the government of anti-Semitic tendencies, but in an aside, remarks that Soros’ wealth, American citizenship and Jewish origins make him a perfect target to represent “hidden background powers” which are central to what Vásárhelyi identifies as ‘paranoid conspiracy theories.’

In their usual monthly joint interview with Heti Válasz, two political analysts view Mr Soros’ role from opposing angles. Gábor Török suggests that the government is using Soros to mobilize voters in the referendum on mandatory EU migrant redistribution quotas. The centrist analyst suggests that George Soros is used as the ‘bogeyman’ in this pursuit, which is also aimed at diverting attention from politically delicate issues like education and health care. Ágoston Sámuel Mráz, on the other hand, believes that Soros is indeed an important power player. The pro-government political scientist recalls that Soros is one of the main financial supporters of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and as such has some leverage over the Left in the US. Mráz suspects that this could explain Bill Clinton’s critical remarks on Hungary (see BudaPost May 19).